Just like food and decorations, deep discounts and bargain prices have become a huge part of the holidays. As shoppers go online to find good deals, they are also exposing themselves to cyber criminals seeking to exploit the festive season.
Scammers and spammers view the holidays as a golden opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. Hackers may use tactics like preying on popular keyword searches to lure shoppers to malicious websites, with the goal of collecting financial and personal information.
To help keep you and your bank account safe, it’s important to learn how to shop securely during the holidays. These simple tips from the STOP.THINK.CONNECT.TM Campaign can help protect your personal information and transactions throughout the holiday season:
- Watch out for deals that look too good to be true. Scammers often try to trick shoppers by offering extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Don’t open suspicious email attachments or follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
- Consider using a credit card instead of a debit card. There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, and you may not have the same level of protection when using your debit card. Check with your card providers to see what protections they provide for each card you have.
- Avoid financial transactions on public Wi-Fi, which is often not very secure. Save your online shopping, banking, or sensitive transactions for your home network.
- Keep your computer, browser, anti-virus, and other critical software up to date.
- Beware of fake URLs. Malicious websites look like legitimate sites, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net). Also look in the address box for the "s" in https:// before any transaction. That “s” tells you that the site is taking extra measures to help secure your information.
- Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages in case there are unauthorized purchases on your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
For more holiday shopping tips, check out the Federal Trade Commission. The Department of Homeland Security’s STOP.THINK.CONNECT. Campaign also provides advice and resources to help you stay safe online all year round.